2012 Berger Gruner Veltliner

Saturday, May 31, 2014 5:53 PM

With summer rapidly approaching, it’s always a good idea to have ways to keep cool … and happy. In the wine department, easy drinking, low alcohol, crisp whites and rosés do the trick for both. But there’s a lot of wine out there, eh?  So what to choose? No need to overthink this, sometimes the answer is right there staring you in the face. Look over here, it’s a full liter size bottle with a traditional bottle cap firmly affixed to it. It’s 12.5% alcohol, it’s dry, it’s crisp, it’s the 2012 Berger Grüner Veltliner!


When I first started here at TWH, I remember being quite overwhelmed by the myriad of selections to be found among our bins. I knew a little about Bordeaux, but there were so many question marks in view that I was unable to even formulate a strategy as how to get the knowledge, so to speak. After saying “I don’t know, I haven’t tasted it” to customers several times over that first week, it hit me. I then changed my response to, “I don’t know, but I will tomorrow,” and would put aside the bottle in question, only to taste it with some of my wine-loving friends after work. That, combined with occasional staff tastings, got me up to speed. Well, technically, in the wine universe, you’re never “up to speed.” There are always new vintages, emerging regions, and less recognized grape varietals hitting the marketplace.  At the time, Grüner Veltliner was unknown territory for me. It was Memorial Day weekend that year, and forecasts were calling for warm weather, so among my weekend wines was a full liter bottle of Veltliner. There exists, among the core of my wine-drinking pals, a tendency to gravitate toward white wines that are less fruity and more on the sleek and zippy side. Needless to say, the Berger Grüner Veltliner was a smash hit!


Grüner Veltliner is the most planted grape variety in Austria. It is capable of delivering on several quality levels. At this fresh and easy level, the wines are known for having an herbal profile, often displaying aromatics of white pepper. They are a lean in the fruit department, but some show hints of stone fruit.  Buoyed by fresh acidity levels and coming in at 12.5%, it is a great refresher on a warm day or evening. Incredibly versatile in the pairing department, it suits a wide variety of cuisine including light fare such as herbal salads and hamachi crudo. It can also take on such mains as wiener schnitzel, roast chicken, oysters, and pork chops. The New York Times’ Eric Asimov had this to say about Berger’s Veltliner, “Fresh and expressive, with citrus, floral and mineral flavors that linger in the mouth. It practically invites you to have a second glass.”


So later that summer, my best friend was having a milestone birthday, and plans were made to rent a ridiculous place in the Napa Valley and have our own wine tasting as well as a couple of memorable dinners. Tasked with wine duty, I knew there would be plenty of time spent around the pool in the hot sun. A few liters of Berger Grüner Veltliner were perfect for the afternoons outdoors. The wine was not recognized by many partygoers at the time, but many of them now buy Veltliner every summer to remind them of the great time we all had.

Full steam ahead! It’s almost June; time for dads and grads and June brides. As the days continue to get longer and warmer, having some crisp, unpretentious white wine around is always a good idea. At 12.5% alcohol, the 2012 Berger Grüner Veltliner does indeed invite you to have another glass; and the price tag allows you to stock up as well. – Peter Zavialoff

June 2011 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, June 4, 2011 3:19 PM

To quote N.P. Willis, “It is the month of June, the month of leaves and roses, when pleasant sights salute the eyes, and pleasant scents the noses.” In other words, summer is underway!! Strawberries are ripe for the pickin’, dads everywhere await their moment in the spotlight, and the next baseball game is but a moment away. Best of all, TWH’s latest Dirty Dozen is all revved up and ready to go: 12 fantastic wines, picked for their versatility, packed into one box, all for an incredible price. Enjoy!

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Click here to purchase the Dirty Dozen for $109.

2008 Muller Thurgau, Niedermayr – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
A unique wine from a unique Italian province where German is the language of choice for many and the wines follow suit. This dry white wine boasts delicate floral aromas with notes of Asian pear, dried herbs, and hints of minerality. Pairs perfectly with pesce bianco or sauerkrautsalat mit schinken.

2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Lalande – $11.29, $9.03 reorder
The legendary Yves Grassa has conjured up yet another stellar vintage of Sauvignon Blanc from the Gascogne region, just SW of Bordeaux. If you’ve had his wines in the past, we had you at “Lalande”. If not, one sip will have you scratching your head wondering, “How do they do it so inexpensively?” A must have with summer salads and ceviche.

2010 Rose, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
Oh my, if we had a nickel for every time someone came into the shop and swooned over this dry Rose … bright, candied red fruit, sweet herbs, and a touch of mineral from the cailloux-rich Costieres de Nimes soil from whence this wine came.

2007 Pinot Auxerrois, Domaine Ehrhart – $16.59, $13.27 reorder
Pinot what? Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce it. Just take comfort in knowing it’s the finest clone of Pinot Blanc made by a revered Alsatian producer. Fresh apple and peach blossom aromas lead to a mouthfeel that is round, slightly off-dry and has a juicy apple-like finish. Bonus points for being certified organic and a killer value to boot!

2008 Vouvray ‘Silex’, Domaine d’Orfeuilles – $19.99, $15.99 reorder
Wow, a Vouvray in the Dirty Dozen? Hey, you work hard you deserve to be spoiled. This wine’s ripe, round orchard fruit and uber-mineral-driven palate just begs to be paired with oysters … on a diamond-studded serving platter, of course.

2009 Chardonnay, Grayson Cellars – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
We’re straight up giddy about the quality Grayson Cellars puts into their wine for such great prices. Aged in French oak, this Napa Chardonnay shows aromatics of apples, apricots, and spice with nervy acidity that holds all the fruit together as it rolls into a rich finish. Versatile, yes, but we’re thinking lobster rolls on a sunny afternoon here.

2007 Tradicional, Quinta do Alqueve – $11.99, $9.59 reorder
This wine is hearty, honest, and plain old delish – a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), Trincadeira, and Periquita. It is an outstanding representation of what a “country” wine from Portugal should be. Think wood fired pizza with this one.

2009 Merlot Rutherford, MSH Cellars – $9.98 net price, $8.98 reorder
There’s a reason we’ve stood by Merlot all these years, and here it is. No costumes, no make-up, just pure Rutherford Merlot. It’s safe to assume that fruit from this vineyard source makes its way into bottles with much fancier names and much higher prices. Napa Valley fruit never tasted so good, especially at this price. Mmmm … burgers on the grill!

2009 Beaujolais Lantignie, Chateau du Basty – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
Sure, if including the Vouvray listed above is spoiling you … then the inclusion of this 2009 Beaujolais in the DD is spoiling you rotten! Ideal weather leads to heaven in a bottle. Juicy red fruit, cedar chest, and forest floor dominate the nose. The palate is lightweight, as Gamay tends to be, but generous with its liveliness. It’s cassoulet time.

2010 Merlot, Saint Antoine – $10.99, $8.79 reorder
And you thought we were done talking about Merlot! We wouldn’t be properly representing our love for the grape if we didn’t throw a bottle from the motherland in the mix. And wowzers, has Saint Antoine stepped up their game in 2010. Fleshy, plummy fruit meets violets and herbs de Provence in this approachable yet authentically French VdP.

2009 Chianti Montalbano, Tenuta Pierazzouli – $13.99, $11.19 reorder
We’ve been importing Enrico Pierazzouli’s Tuscan wines for over a decade now, and why wouldn’t we? They’re loaded with character, speak of a place, and leave plenty of dough in your pocketbook. This Chianti is 100% Sangiovese and has plenty of depth and complexity. Best pair this one with a hearty bistecca or a steaming bowl of pasta Bolognese.

2009 Zweigelt, Berger – $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
You learn some of the coolest stuff listening to Tom talk about wine. The other day he was helping a customer and mentioned that Zweigelt was a hybrid of Austrian red heavyweight Blaufrankish. A little research reveals that a fellow named Zweigelt came up with this by crossing it with St. Laurent. Who benefits? If you’re grilling brats, you do!

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